CINCINNATI — The last of four people involved in an incident in Wilmington in early 2020 has made a plea agreement.
According to court documents, Joshua Cordell Lee Williams, 19, of Xenia, made a plea deal with in U.S. District Court – Southern District of Ohio on Monday with a change of plea hearing set for July 13.
According to Jennifer Thornton, a public affairs official for the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Southern District of Ohio, Williams had agreed to plead guilty to the use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime or crime of violence.
The statutory penalties are five years up to life in prison.
Williams was charged with the offense when his case went to federal court in July 2020; he was also charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, which was dismissed.
Williams, along with Christian Terry, 22, Kevin Lane Noe Jr., 21, and Corey Ruffner, 22, were charged with being involved in the shooting death of 23-year-old Layne Hall in January 2020.
Court documents stated that Hall, Terry, Noe, and Ruffner allegedly rode in a car together to meet someone at the Brownberry Apartments parking lot; soon after the four arrived, the person they were to meet — allegedly Williams — arrived. Gunfire was heard shortly after.
Although court documents don’t allege that Terry, Noe, or Ruffner purposely killed Hall, it alleges that if they had not taken part in initiating a robbery, the death would not have occurred.
Williams is suspected of directly causing Hall’s death. The late Richard Moyer — then-Clinton County Prosecutor — said last year during the indictment that the charge against Williams — unlike the charges against Terry, Noe and Ruffner — alleges the “purposeful killing of another” as a direct consequence of his own action.
The three other suspects respectively pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Clinton County Common Pleas Court and received prison sentences along with community control.
Current Clinton County Prosecutor Andrew McCoy said he has “complete confidence” in the U.S. Attorney’s office and he was “satisfied that any plea offered to Mr. Williams was one supported by the facts and law of the case.”
McCoy continued, “I appreciate the U.S. Attorney’s Office willingness to accept cases for review out of the District’s smaller counties and bringing their greater resources to bear on crimes involving firearms and offenses of violence. This case was difficult from the beginning and my sympathies go out to the family of Layne Hall.”
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574